The Server Isn’t The Only Thing That’s Down

, , , , , | Working | October 5, 2017

(I have an onsite computer repair business. To take payments, I have a POS terminal that plugs into my laptop and integrates very nicely with my accounting software, so I don’t have to input any payments afterwards. Unlike other solutions, it also accepts Canadian debit cards. At my last call of the day, the terminal does not even turn on when I plug it in. Fortunately, it is a smaller job, so my regular client just pays me cash. After I return to my home office, I do some basic troubleshooting, and then call tech support. The actual call goes in circles for about 45 minutes; this is the summary version:)

Me: “My terminal is not turning on; I can’t take payments with it. I’ve tried multiple USB ports on three different computers. All have been able to use it before, but it doesn’t even turn on at all.”

Support: “My apologies, sir, but our server is down; that’s why payments aren’t going through.”

Me: “Thank you for that, but my terminal isn’t even turning on. Normally, when I plug it in, it lights up and shows a bunch of letters and numbers on it before it gets to the ‘Ready’ prompt.”

Support: “The server is down, sir. It should be back up in a few hours.”

Me: “This is not a server issue. When I plug it in, it always lights up, even if I haven’t connected the laptop to an Internet connection yet. I often use my phone’s hotspot when I can’t connect to the client’s connection, and it still normally lights up even if it can’t connect yet. This is NOT a server issue.”

Support: “Our server is down, sir. You cannot take payments right now.”

Me: “That’s fine. You still need to send me a new terminal. My computer does not even see that the hardware is connected. It does not show up in the device manager. If I plug it into a computer that has never used it, it does not ask to install drivers. [Accounting Software] does not see that the terminal is even there. All of this happens before it even thinks about contacting your server. It only contacts your server when it’s time to do a transaction, and that should lead to an ‘Unable to complete transaction’ error. Send me a new terminal.”

Support: “Correct, sir. The server is down; that’s why you are getting that ‘Unable to complete transaction’ error.”

Me: “I am not getting that error message.”

Support: “Then why did you mention it? What error are you getting?”

Me: “I’m not getting any error message. The terminal does not even turn on.”

Support: “I cannot help you if you cannot keep your story straight. Goodbye.”

(The phone line goes dead.)

Me: *dials back* “Give me someone who can authorize an RMA; your techs are useless. I just spent 45 minutes being told your server is down when I told them my terminal doesn’t even turn on.”

Support #2: “One moment, sir.” *call transferred*

Support #3: “How can I help you?”

(I explain once again.)

Support #3: “I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you and your business. Can I get the serial number for the terminal? It starts with 37, and you can find it just below the barcode on the back of the terminal.”

Me: “37*********.”

Support #3: “Thank you, sir. I’m expediting a new terminal to you. It should arrive in two days.”

(Total time after the call back? Five minutes, including the brief hold for the transfer. I got the replacement device on the day they promised, and it continued to work perfectly until I closed the business three years later.)

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